Charlene Hunt was encouraged by the unique sense of camaraderie that highlighted the inaugural Grace Haught Memorial Children's Fund barrel racing.
"There was a special spirit of competition among the riders as they cheered for each other," Hunt said. "I think the spirit was because the event was for the Gracie (Haught) fund.
"The riders knew they were there for something bigger than just (barrel racing)."
Hunt, a recreation specialist for the Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Department, organized the racing event held Aug. 10 at the Payson Event Center.
The competition was the first "jackpot"-formatted barrel racing ever sponsored the town P&R department.
"I was very happy with the event," Hunt said. "I look forward to it next year and I think it will once again be held the weekend prior to the August rodeo."
The day following the evening barrel racing, the inaugural Gracie Haught Memorial team roping was held also at the PEC.
"It (the barrel racing) was a great way to kick off the roping on Saturday," Hunt said.
For the racing, 42 riders from around Gila, Yavapai and Maricopa counties showed up to battle for prize money.
"We paid back 70 percent of the entry fees and contributed the remaining $300 to the Gracie Fund," Hunt said.
"The open division paid $35 per person while the peewees paid $10.
"We did not hold back any money from the peewee division which allowed us to pay four places, rather than three."
In the peewee division, Makiah Taylor of Tonto Basin rode her way to a first-place finish in 23.61. In addition to the prize money she received, Taylor also was awarded a custom leather tooled halter donated and built by Charlie Hall.
Ali Tenney, Hunt's granddaughter, was second in 25.825.
Dakota Criner took third in 28.835 and Neve Sopeland was fourth in 32.53.
Tenney, Criner and Sopeland are all from Payson.
The adult barrel racing was conducted in a 4D format, which meant riders were aligned in divisions with other riders and horses who had posted similar times.
Hunt said the 4D format allows all who enter equal opportunities to be successful.
In the 1D ranks, Chino Valley's Kim Perkins turned in an ET of 18.19 that turned out to be the quickest of the evening. In addition to the prize money, she received a custom hand-tooled halter donated by Hall.
Runner-up honors in 1D were garnered by Pine's Chelsea Stodghill and third went to Amber Marshal of Jake's Corner. Stodghill was timed in 18:37 and Marshall in 18:45.
In the 2D division, Tonto Basin's Media Hunsaker was first in 18:87. Patty Goble took second (18:88) and Lani Murdock was third (18:94). Both Goble and Murdock represented Payson.
Queen Creek equestrian Stacey Clark was first in the 3D division in 19:20. Payson's Melanie Haught was second (19:23) and Zale Delp of Wittman was third (19:50).
Susan Althoff took the 4D title in 19:69. Terri Haught was second (19:80) and Ramsey Milam third (20:02.
Althoff and Milam are from Payson and Haught from Tonto Basin.